Building Healthier Communities Through Investments in Flood Management
Milwaukee is grappling with one of the fastest growing rates of income inequality of any large American city, with income in the county’s wealthiest zip code more than ten times that of residents’ income in lowest income zip codes. As disparities in income have widened, so too have disparities in residents’ access to many of the public amenities that support strong mental and physical health, including walking trails, public parks and playgrounds. In coming years, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District will make massive investments in flood management throughout the city. The Connect Capital team is developing a strategy to systematically leverage those investments to benefit disinvested neighborhoods, including the establishment of new green and recreational spaces, increasing safe access to amenities in the city, the creation of bike and pedestrian pathways, and spurring commercial activity. Importantly, a public utility responsible for overseeing the flood management investments is a member of the Milwaukee Connect Capital team, creating a valuable partnership opportunity that is rarely available in community development work.
By providing access to new recreational opportunities and public gathering spaces and incorporating green infrastructure into streetscaping and placemaking, the Milwaukee-based Connect Capital team hopes to catalyze business development, encourage more outdoor activities and foster a greater sense of community among residents. Ultimately, the team seeks to develop community amenities that promote residents’ economic stability and mobility, reduce negative health impacts associated with living in an underserved community, and attract investment and jobs.
The Milwaukee Connect Capital travel team consists of staff from the metropolitan sewerage district, a community development corporation, the department of city development, a community health center, a business improvement district, and a representative of funders and investors. The larger home team includes staff from advocacy organizations, city government, neighborhood associations, lenders and area foundations.